Why The Reader’s Opinion Matters to Me

In 2007, I was reading tarot cards at the first annual Vermont Horror Film Festival, where director Philippe Spurrell presented his debut silver screen effort, The Descendant (Not to be confused with the George Clooney film of the same title). There was a Q and A afterwards and I was ready with the Q’s.

A thriller that revolved around a little known aspect of Canadian history with regards to slavery, the main plot device in the movie was a mysterious quilt. Having no idea what the movie was about at the beginning, I immediately thought of the quilts that were used to communicate to the men and women trying to escape from slavery. After the movie was over, I asked the director if this symbolism was intended and he told me that it wasn’t. But he appreciated the fact that I was paying such close attention to the story, as evidenced by a follow up question involving a record that was played later in the film.

On a forum someone said, “As long as someone bought my story, I don’t care if they review it, or not.”

Which amazes me, because if that person’t wasn’t satisfied with the story, or didn’t like it enough to write a review or ask thoughtful questions about the story, then it’s very unlikely they will buy further works with that writer’s name on it. They’re even less likely to tell other people to buy that story, or encourage people to read that author’s work.

As a reader, my happiest moments involve authors who replied to e-mails, or Facebook posts, or retweeted my reviews. As a writer, I still punch the air when I read well thought reviews by people who definitely read (not skimmed) my work. Even reviews with an air of critique are fine, as long as I can tell from the quality of the review that they actually read the story. Because maybe the readers saw something that I didn’t think of. Or maybe the reader saw something that I did think of, and it will make me all the happier to know that soon I will make that reader happier with the next installment.

Reviews are important. Any interaction with a reader that doesn’t end with me tied to the bed with my legs broken by a cock-a-doody sledgehammer is a blessed encounter.

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